Can you believe we are just days away from 2015? Before I go on about this heavenly dessert I couldn’t help but think (sitting here at my kitchen table with my laptop, nibbling on roasted pumpkin seeds) about how the year has quickly flown by. Do you all feel the same way, or is it just me?
I’m thinking about how much my twins boys’ health has improved, developmentally as well. So much of their progress is due to our gluten, dairy, soy free lifestyle. It makes all my cooking and baking worth every minute, in addition to all the supplements, speech, OT and HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) my little champs do every day. I know for sure that they are responding to these treatments by being free and clear of the allergen foods by maintaining a clean diet. We, as a family, are also reaping the health benefits living without gluten, dairy, and soy (also egg and almond for my oldest and pineapple for me).
A lot has happened in one year … my oldest son graduated college, my teenager was bar mitzvah-ed, new house, renewed and remodeled blog, new schools for my twin boys, just to name a few! My husband and I try to keep calm and carry on (with a weekly date night for the sake of sanity) with all the changes and events that keep our lives colorful.
As hectic as life gets and (I’m not gonna lie) stressful at times, I do feel blessed to have such delightful boys and a wonderful husband. We do have fun and enjoy good eats. That said, let’s talk dessert.
I will get right down to it. This poached pear with chocolate ganache dessert is not only lovely to serve when entertaining (even a large crowd!) it is downright delicious.
The spiced simple syrup flavor comes through in these melt-in-your-mouth poached pears without overpowering the sweet flavor of the pear. Soft but not mushy, and easy to dig into (we don’t want any awkwardly fumbling desserts). Now imagine warm dark chocolate ganache over this syrupy spiced pear, lighter-than-air whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs for a deep coffee flavored crunch. Your tastebuds will be doing a major happy dance. If only every recipe was this quick, easy AND fabulous.
A few words on cocoa nibs: The taste of cocoa nibs is not for everyone. It is more bitter in flavor than say a bittersweet chocolate and high in caffeine. If you like the taste of espresso (like me), you will love cocoa nibs. If not, substitute cocoa nibs for chocolate shavings (grate a hunk of dark chocolate) or any other “crunch” factor you like. Crushed nuts are also a good option. I don’t give my younger ones cocoa nibs, instead I add crushed toasted peanuts (they love peanuts) on top. Whichever crunch texture you choose it is a must in here, it really does add an extra dimension to the dessert.
While taking photos (with my new camera, still learning but getting better – what do you think?!) I couldn’t resist a bite. One bite led to another I will confess; suddenly it became a continuous quest to spoon pear, ganache, whipped topping and nibs into each bite. I couldn’t help myself after the first bite. It happens.
I think a poached pear with a good heaping spoonful of deep dark chocolate with toppings is the perfect way to ring in the New Year, and goes so well with Riesling or Champagne … a lighter dessert that can be served chilled or warm. I will be serving this warm for dessert with Champagne on New Year’s Eve. Let’s just keep my eating-during-blog-photos between us, okay?
Wishing you all a happy, safe, and healthy 2015!!
Can you see the specks of vanilla?
The scent of spiced pear … Oh. My. Goodness.
Don’t drain the liquid! The syrup is worth keeping for cocktails (spiced mojito, anyone?), drizzled on pancakes or waffles or over fresh fruit for a quick treat. Strain and reserve in a glass jar, it will stay fresh, refrigerated, for up to a month.
The poached pear don’t necessarily need the whipped topping and nibs to make it a dessert worth eating, but because it’s New Year’s Eve I thought we should dress it up. But hey, if you prefer naked this New Year’s Eve, by all means, go for it. 🙂
- Poached Pears:
- 8 cups water
- 2½ cups cane sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, cut in half and sliced open
- 1 pinch whole cardamon
- 2 whole cloves
- 6-8 bosc pears, firm to the touch
- Chocolate Ganache:
- 1 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 6 ounces semisweet dark chocolate (used Guittard), coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate (used Guittard), coarsely chopped
- dairy free whipped topping (used So Delicious Cocowhip)
- Cacao nib pieces for garnish
- NOTE: Prep Time includes cool and chilling time.
- For the poached pears:
- Set a large stockpot (at least 5-quart size) over medium-high heat, add water, sugar, and all the spices.
- Meanwhile, peel pears leaving the stem intact, and cut off ¼ inch from the bottom so the pear can stand upright later. When the water begins to boil add the pears. Let it cook for 30-40 minutes, until soft, yet still, hold shape. A gentle touch will confirm if they are ready and the liquid will reduce by about 2 inches.
- Turn off heat and let cool for 20-30 minutes, or until room temperature. The syrup will thicken somewhat when cooled.
- Note: The spiced simple syrup is worth keeping — perfect for cocktails (spiced mojito, anyone?), on pancakes, waffles, and fresh fruit. It will stay fresh refrigerated for up to a month. I managed to get ⅔ of a quart of reserved liquid.
- For the ganache:
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add coconut milk and coconut oil (there is no strong coconut flavor that comes through, do not worry!). Heat to a simmer, until small bubbles are just beginning to come up around the edges. Do not let it boil. Turn off heat, then add all chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Let it cool 30 minutes before using.
- Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days, stir well and heat to warm (optional) before serving.
- Using a large serving spoon, gently (they dent easily) lift a poached pear sideways (do not be tempted to lift it by the stem, it will come off) then using your hand as a guide, transfer the poached pear into a deep glass by holding it from the bottom, and slide into a serving glass. Pour ganache as desired. Chill for 30-60 minutes then add whipped topping and cacao nibs before serving.
- To make-ahead: Both, poached pears and ganache can be made up to 3 days in advance. Then assembled and chilled up to an hour before serving.
- Serving suggestion: Serve “buffet style” with ganache, whipped topping, cacao nibs (and anything else really) on the side for your guests to help themselves. If non-dairy whipped topping and cacao nibs are not available, try fresh berries, sprinkles, and/or toasted coconut flakes.
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Mackenzie Stauskas says